While the recent Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal in Northern Ireland may have put some people off, the scheme run in England, Scotland and Wales is still a pretty good option for green enthusiasts. In fact, there are increases to the amount being paid for the next year as the Government tries to convince more of us to switch to low carbon heating.
But which technologies are included in the list for the RHI?
Biomass or Wood Fuelled Boilers
Biomass boilers are designed to burn plant material such as wood in order to provide heat for a home. They can also be used to generate electricity in some cases, depending on the design. The heat travels up through a flue and then enters a heat exchanger which can then send it out to the property central heating system.
The most efficient fuel for biomass boilers is either wood chip or pellet. These are still considered renewable because the wood is obtained from sustainable sources where trees are replanted.
Biomass Pellet Stoves Integrated with a Boiler to Deliver Space Heating
You can get biomass pellet stoves that are able to operate on their own and many people have these in their home as a way of heating a particular room. When this kind of device is connected to a boiler it can be used to heat all spaces in a property. Once this is achieved, the technology is eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground source heat pumps involve a network of pipes that are dug into the garden surrounding a property. This array leads to an exchange mechanism that works just like a refrigerator but in reverse. The popularity of this kind of technology in Europe is now starting to catch on here. It works best with a property that is well insulated as the heating is supplied at a fairly low, but constant, level. New developments in recent times have seen heat pumps that can extract higher levels of warmth from the surrounding environment. For the purposes of the RHI, water source heat pumps are classed in a similar way to GSHPs.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Similar to ground source heat pumps, air source ones fit to the outside of a building and extract heat from the surrounding atmosphere. They are considered a little less efficient than GSHPs but are a lot cheaper to install as no building work is required.
Flat Plate and Evacuated Tube Solar Thermal Panels That Deliver Hot Water
Solar thermal panels work by attracting the heat from the sun and converting this to work with your central heating or hot water system. Solar thermal is a decent low cost solution with very little in the way of carbon emissions attached to it. They are also easy to maintain and have a fairly long operational life comparable to solar PV.
If you are considering upgrading your heating system this year and want to find a solution that is low carbon and easy to manage, then any of the solutions above are suitable. While the cost of installation may be more than your average gas boiler, the return on investment along with the RHI and reduced heating bills can make a huge difference.
Find out more about the RHI here.